A Time for Paws: A Puppy for Christmas?
Are Christmas puppies a good gift idea? Certainly, there are lots of factors to take into account before we can give a definitive answer to this question. So, let’s start delving into what some of the areas we should consider before we make this decision.
The first thing that comes to my mind is that this could be a 12-15 year responsibility the new owner will have to take on. If someone decides to get a puppy or give one to a loved one, they must be prepared to take on a long-term commitment to provide care for this pet. It will mean that the owner of the puppy will have to provide care even when they are at work or on vacation. It is a 24/7 responsibility. Is the new owner aware of this and willing to take on this level of commitment? The new pet is not a toy to be left alone in a few days or weeks.
How about the costs of taking care of a puppy? This dog will require food for its entire lifespan. On top of food costs there will be the costs of veterinary care and yearly vaccinations. Depending on where you live in the country, there is the on-going cost for monthly heartworm prevention and flea/tick preventatives. And we must consider the costs if the pet gets sick and must go to the veterinarian for a regular appointment or for an after-hours emergency appointment. These costs can add up quickly. Does the new owner like to travel a lot? If so, then the costs of boarding a pet or having someone come to your house to care for them can get quite expensive.
Picking out a pet is a very personal issue. It is important for the person or family members to meet the new pet and make sure it is a fit before the animal is brought into the home. Some breeds are not a good match for a family with young children. On a more personal level, some pets do not mesh well with only one, or more, members of a family, so if just one person meets them, the pet might not be a good match.
Puppies are like children – they require regular instruction on proper behavior. Training is essential for having a well socialized pet that gets along with the owner and their family, but also with other dogs and people it will encounter when out, such as on a walk. There are some good training options available, but considerable time and some expenses are involved in getting pets well socialized.
Is the new owner able to walk the new dog twice a day? Regular exercise is essential for a healthy, well-adjusted dog. Sometimes when dogs are not given regular exercise and training, they develop serious behavioral problems. Dogs are also creatures of habit. They love routines and the holiday season around Christmas is very hectic. This time of the year does not lend itself to good training habits.
Dr. Dick Hay is a veterinarian at TotalBond Veterinary Hospital at Davidson and has lived in Davidson since 1989 with his wife Pam, a retired Davidson College biology professor. They raised two wonderful children in Davidson, Sarah and Ben. Dr. Hay is a Davidson College graduate from the Class of 1977 and received his MS and DVM degrees from the University of Georgia. He is active in the community, having served on several nonprofits boards, including many years with the Davidson Housing Coalition.